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Thomas Milward Tug Owner.

We received an enquiry from Philip Milward of  Australia regarding his great-grandfather Thomas Milward who was a tug owner and operator at Swansea Docks in the late 19th and early 20th century. After delving into various local historical resources we managed to assemble some details of Mr. Milward’s activities, and Philip – who is currently working in China – hopes to add some further information when he has the opportunity to examine his family’s records upon returning home later this year.

Like so many people who made their mark upon this busy period of port development at Swansea, Thomas Milward had all but disappeared into the depths of time. He was one of several individual tugboat owners operating out of the Port of Swansea in the late 19th and early 20th century when the North Dock, the South Dock, the Prince of Wales Dock and, later, the Kings Dock were in full swing, and when the river would have been bustling with sailing ships and steamships entering and leaving the port.

Thomas Milward, in partnership with David Jones, had an engineering workshop in the Strand, but this partnership was dissolved on the 19th June 1872 and Mr. Milward continued in business as the sole proprietor. He then entered into a partnership with Henry Bainbridge and in 1877 they built the 72-foot screw-driven iron steamship ‘Frank Stanley’, the first and only one of its kind to be built at Swansea. The company also built the 37-foot steel steam-launch ‘Sylvia’ for Mr. Alfred Meager of London. The Milward-Bainbridge partnership was dissolved later that same year and Bainbridge went into partnership with Arthur Meager, whose family had been building wooden ships at Swansea since the early 19th century.

Trials of the ‘Frank Stanley’ were carried out on a trip across to Ilfracombe with Thomas Milward aboard as consultant engineer, and she proved suitable for both towing and for the carrying of passengers. She was later put up for auction at Cardiff (to be viewed at Swansea) and was sold in 1884 to Charles Roberts of Bristol. The ‘Frank Stanley’ was finally broken up in 1927 after an exceptionally long working life of 50 years.

By 1893 Messrs.  Messrs. Milward & Bainbridge were listed as tugboat owners at Swansea, and the  tugs owned and operated by the company are shown below :-

                                             ‘Antelope’ acquired 1893, built by J Payne of Bristol in 1893
                                    ‘Gazelle’ acquired 1901, built by J Payne of Bristol 1901
                                    ‘Tartar’   acquired 1904, built by A Hall & Co. of Aberdeen  in 1904
                                    ‘Lynx’ acquired 1905, built by Ailsa Shipbuilding of Ayr 1905
                                    ‘Talbot’ acquired 1911, built by Fellows & Co. of Great Yarmouth in 1911
                                    ‘Belle of Usk’ acquired 1912, built by Mordey, Carney of Newport 1891
                                    ‘Talbot’ acquired 1913, built by W H Warren of New Holland in 1913

Note :-

The tugs listed above were all built to order for Messrs. Milward & Bainbridge apart from the ‘Belle of the Usk’, which had been built in1891 for work at Newport Docks and acquired by Thomas Milward (listed as sole owner) in 1912 

At the time of his death in 1920, Thomas Milward was employed as a consultant to the Admiralty.

.Steam tug ‘Lynx’, built in 1905 for Messrs Milward & Bainbridge, pictured at the yard of the Ailsa Shipbuilding
 Company, Ayr. The ‘Lynx’ was sold to the Grimsby Salvage & Towing Company in 1913

Above a photo of Norton Lodge Swansea in 1893, owned by Thomas Milward and where
Philip Milward's Grandfather was born.


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